Regift: Journal Magazine

January 23, 2011

Regift: Journal Magazine
Words: Rob Brink

Already Been Done, January 2011

rob brink journal magazine
Kevin Taylor

Put simply, in 1996, the appearance of Journal magazine got East Coast skateboarders hyped. Real hyped. Then, one more issue later, it was gone.

My fondness for Journal has always been coupled with a lack of closure because of it’s premature demise. Many share a similar sentiment for 101, Mad Circle or a favorite skater who fell off the map too soon.

I've cherished and held on to issue 1 and 2 all these years with the intention of scanning them to post online because, to the best of my knowledge, they haven't surfaced anywhere. Upon seeking permission from Ryan Gee (ex-photo editor of Journal) and Rick Valenzuela (ex-editor of Journal) to do so, Ryan sent a PDF of issue "zero," which I never knew existed. It features Lennie Kirk, Mike and Quim Cardona, Tim O'Connor, Ricky Oyola, Vern Laird, Kevin Taylor, Reese Forbes, Greg Harris, Hamilton Harris, Sean Mullendore, Maurice Key, Fred Gall, A.J Mazzu, Chico Brenes, Joey Alvarez, Bobby Puleo, Jimmy Chung and Tony Hawk.

Mind blown.

Download issue zero here and read the story of Journal, straight from the editor himself, below. Issue 1 and 2 are further down in this article

What prompted starting Journal?
Simply wanting to make a magazine. Back then we all came from ‘zine culture. We loved Five Points in Atlanta and Smag in Baltimore. At the time the East Coast was getting some good attention in mags and videos, maybe the first time since the early Shut days. I think everyone got psyched to see a spot or someone they knew in a California mag, but it was pretty special to get your hands on Smag because it was filled with familiarity.

At that time there was also Strength, but we wanted to be strictly skateboarding. I think one of our biggest influences was the old Poweredge, and we wanted something like that to exist again. There were more East Coast companies popping up too, so it seemed like the timing was right.

Who was involved and where did it run out of?
I was living in Philadelphia and talked about it a bunch since moving there in 1991. Around ‘94 I met a Philly kid named Chris McKenna and got my friend Jeff Moynihan from D.C. to come up after his graduation. When things started to pick up, we were introduced to Ryan Gee, who had recently moved to Philly. We also had John Senesy, a Love Park regular and photog who was in San Diego.

We met others through word of mouth and the Internet, which was a small-ass place back then. But that’s how I originally met Jeff, off of the Usenet discussion groups alt.music.hardcore and alt.skate-board, when he was in Tokyo. We asked friends from there and the IRC channel #skate to contribute or reprint things we thought were awesome. We all got together around the summer of 1995 in a crappy apartment on South Street and we called it the “Journal House.”

Brian Nugent, who went to art school in Philly, moved back from Boston to be our art director between issue 1 and 2. We moved to a better “Journal House” and literally dozens of people lived there over time. I was there with Vern Laird a couple years ago on New Year’s Day and the neighborhood is all newly built houses.

mike cardona journal rob brink
Mike Cardona

What was it like starting a regional mag on the East Coast back then?
There was a lot of pride, not so much a rivalry or hating on the West, but we were just proud of where we were from. People got psyched that we were getting our own mag—the “we” being East Coast people or non-Californians. The funny thing is that one of the common complaints you hear in the East is people having to deal winter, but Philly got dumped on during the big blizzard of ‘96, so none of us had to go to our day jobs and we cranked out issue zero and made a website instead.

A lot of company people were really behind us, like Mike Agnew at ECU (Nicotine wheels and Capital skateboards), Kent at FTC, Bob Losito at Screw and Thomas from Torque. South Shore promoted us really well. Some people were skeptical, but a lot of word of mouth and personal references helped us.

Day-to-day, it was like your typical skate shop or skate house. People were always coming and going and hanging out. There was no such thing as “work hours.” We were all holding down wage jobs and doing what we could on the mag when we could. None of us got paid; the “company” only paid for expenses and production costs and spent a lot of money on Gee’s parking tickets.

Did you start with any specific content criteria? You had West Coast dudes like Smolik and Creager in the mag.
Just whatever we thought was good. Some things in there were unexpected, like the West Coast skate photos, or the vert cover shot. We wanted to feature and appreciate decent stuff that wasn’t getting recognized. I really dug Subliminal, the board company built around an incredible set of artists who skate. That was a main thing—cover whatever wasn’t getting due recognition.

But it would’ve been weird for the readers if we were strictly East Coast. The bulk of the companies were out west and those were the ones that probably had bigger budgets for advertising. Senesy was already out in San Diego and somehow we got in contact with Seu Trinh and Dimitry Elyashkevich. I remember being psyched to have West Coast shots, not only because they were great, but also because it gave us wider coverage.

We were heavy on NYC and Philly because that was our backyard. And a lot of people from there were rooting for us or wanted to be a part of it. So much so that people volunteered their photos or writing. No one got paid; it was all heart.

Why did it end? Did you have any idea that it would only go two issues and disappear so abruptly?
No idea at all. At one point, our financial backer said we needed to re-assess how we were doing things because we were spending tons and never had a business plan, which sounds so insane now.

We had an idea of the market, but no data or projections of how we could grow or what we could afford to do. We started with a situation where we could spend whatever we needed to and when that was gone we got lost and never found our way back. We had issue 3 halfway done and then got mired in trying to figure out how to write a business plan.

Eventually we lost steam and were just working our regular jobs. At some point we figured Journal was dead, but none of us even talked about it. By the time we did, it was already in the past tense.

In hindsight, when we got bogged down with the business plan, we probably could’ve been smarter, scaled back and done something to take us through that financial blow. A few years ago I was emailing with Rob Collinson and he said that if Lowcard ever took a hit like that, they would bring it back down to Kinko’s roots to keep it alive. Unfortunately, it never even occurred to us to scale back like that. It sucks to not see a new way out, or even try.

I think if Journal existed in some form for a little longer, it would’ve gotten back up. The response to what little we did was pretty amazing.

lennie kirk journal rob brink
Lennie Kirk

What was a piece or photo in Journal that you were most proud of?
The Drehobl cover. That bank looks so shitty. I like how it was laid out, too, and thinking about it now, it kinda reminds me of the title slides in FTC’s Finally. But I don’t think that was going through our heads then. That photo is a mix of everything: raw skating, a skater and photographer from the East Coast (Dimitry and Drehobl) but shot out West, and it had that East Coast feel that I like. It was shot at night and the spot was rugged. It looks like a gritty NYC shot. And the logo on that cover had smudgy newsprint, which was probably Jeff making fun of me.

I also really like the Rob Erickson article. He’s good on his board and amazing with his artwork. And Wheelie Co. was a great company. That article represented something that we didn’t explicitly decide to convey—that there are so many things you can do in skating aside from the skating itself. That’s what we were trying to do too.

Do you have any funny or disastrous stories about putting any of the issues together?
Ryan Gee busting his spleen. He did it while shooting the Brian Howard interview. Brian was actually hurt too, but they powered through and did one last shoot before they each went to the hospital. It’s part of his Howard interview in issue 2, along with a cartoon Ryan did about it when he was laid up.

Aside from that, the production itself was a comical disaster. There was no digital photography at the time, so we were developing so many slides and negatives, then scanning them on ancient computers and filing them in binders that Gee drew insanely funny cartoons on.

We had a PowerMac 7100 with an 80Mhz processor, 16MB RAM and a 250MB hard drive, which at the time was state-of-the-art. Low budget phones are more powerful than that now.

We took breaks to skate or get food while waiting for the progress bar to do its thing. Storage sucked. We were using Syquest drives to start with and those disks were insanely fragile. This was way before cell phones were common, so we actually had a beeper sponsor.

During that blizzard of ’96 when we made the website to go with issue zero for the ASR show, I crammed and learned HTML2 and quickly put up a fairly decent site, which was hosted by a friend from Usenet and IRC. It might not seem revolutionary now, but back then there were no company websites. Maybe they had a single page with a logo and contact info, but that was it. It was only ECU, Tum Yeto and other kids we’d known online like Dan from Dansworld or Appleman from Huphtur. Jeff, Chris and I were pretty nerdy and we registered the domain skatenerd.com for Journal’s site.

So we finally get to the trade show and see computers at a few booths showing their websites off and tried to pull up ours, nothing happened. Of course, because they were all opening their pages locally—no Internet connection.

Name a dude from the pages of Journal who is long gone from skateboarding but you still have a fondness for.
Jimmy Chung. He turned pro for ADI before he went on to other things. He had a “Prospects” article in issue zero—it was our am “Check Out.”

He was so smooth and chill to watch—and had big-ass nollies. His backside 180s looked so good too. He and this other Upper Darby kid, Dave Delaney had insane pop. Jimmy was also really humble but could talk shit real hard and make you laugh. Speaking of pop, I do also wonder about Sean Mullendore sometimes.

ricky oyola journal rob brink
Ricky Oyola

Rick’s random Journal factoids:

• Our Journal had nothing to do with the digest-sized Journal that came out a few years later. I don’t know if that’s common knowledge or not but I was super surprised to see that on a magazine rack. I don’t know if it was a tribute or they just knocked off the name.

• The third issue that never came out was going to have a city guide to Boston, an article about Albuquerque, New Mexico and a pro interview with Ryan Wilburn. All died except for Albuquerque, which Gee sent to TransWorld and got me to do the write up for.

• Our business card and letterhead had a silhouette of Reese Forbes ollieing at FDR on them. Soon after, it ended up becoming the article ender icon for TransWorld.

• At one of the trade shows we went to (never in a booth, always ghetto guerrilla style), Journal art director Brian Nugent and Flip pro Geoff Rowley stopped dead in their tracks, frozen in a silent moment because they just saw their doppelganger for the first time (i.e. each other).

• Right when Jeff moved down, he showed me a copy of an English-language newspaper in Cambodia. He had a job interview with that publisher, but decided to come up to Philly and do Journal instead. Ironically, six years after Journal ended, I was working at that paper.

• That last Journal house was in Slap in a photo of Brian Dale and Anthony Pappalardo sitting in the living room shot by Jonathon Mehring. Those crappy island-print curtains of ours are in the shot.

rob brink journal house
Photo: Jonathan Mehring

• The sequence of Ronnie Creager’s switch tail revert in issue #2 has the caption written four times because Dimitry said he did it perfect four times in a row. [Editor’s note] this footage is in the end credits of Trilogy.

• Sometime after issue #2 came out, we got a few letters correcting us about using the term “frontside indy.” So in case anyone catches that in the PDFs now … yes, we know.

Click the covers to download each issue.

#1 Bucky Lasek cover:

journal rob brink bucky lasek

#2 Dan Drehobl cover:

journal dan drehobl cover rob brink

ryan gee rob brink journal

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Free Lunch: Tim O'Connor

January 19, 2011

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Free Lunch: Dave Carnie

January 5, 2011

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Behind the Bush: A Conversation With Gino Durante

December 31, 2010

Behind the Bush: A Conversation With Gino Durante
Words: Rob Brink
Already Been Done, December 2010

Gino Durante used to post sponsor-me footage on my Facebook page. I never really paid much mind, not to be a dick, but because there isn’t much I can do other than forward it to a TM at Sole Tech if it's worth their time. And believe me, they are already inundated with sponsor-me tapes.

Fast forward a few months and he posts another video called “My Fucking Bush.”

I watched it, had a laugh and went on my way. Didn’t even realize it was Gino in the video. Videos of skateboarders getting harassed pop up all the time, right?

A few days later, the clip had spread like wildfire. Friends who don’t even skate were texting me and emailing me the clip, asking me if I knew Gino, since he and I are both from North Jersey.

I watched the clip a few more times and had some questions, so the only thing left to do was give Gino a call and get the story behind the year’s most infamous viral skateboarding video.

So now that you’re Internet famous, what’s it been like?
Dude, I just skate around town because I hate driving. Just kick around and have fun by myself with my headphones and shit and this guy pulls over and he’s like, “Hey, you.”

And I’m like, “Oh shit, what the hell did I do to this guy?”

“You’re Gino?” He says. “That video was wild, man, I can’t believe that asshole did that to you.”

So most people get it?
Yeah, pretty much. It’s been crazy, bro. I walked into this local t-shirt place because I wanted to get “How fast? Real fast!” t-shirts made and ruin this guy’s life and the owner is talking to his wife on the phone and he’s like, “Honey, I gotta go. The famous skateboarder just walked in.”

You’re like Ferris Bueller. The whole city was backing him even though they shouldn’t have.
That’s basically what it is. I heard 50 Cent was Twittering about me. I’ve always felt my claim to fame would be skating or something stupid I do. But I never thought it’d be me being a pussy on camera getting attacked by some wild man.

I think you played it smart because skaters never fucking win. You or the filmer could’ve easily clocked the guy. But then you would’ve been fucked no matter what the tape shows.
Yeah. This guy is a real big name. He’s the richest dude in town. Thank God I didn’t hit him because I would’ve lost my house and everything like that.

We were filming all day so the tape ended as soon as the cops came. But they came up like, “What’s going on?”

“This guy attacked me,” I said. “I don’t know what the hell his deal is.”

They were like, “Did you rip up the bush?”

I said, “I didn’t rip up the bush. I got here and it was like that, I just moved it over.”

“So you ripped up the bush.” They said.

I stood up and he puts me up against the brick wall, cuffs me and goes, “You’re under arrest for criminal mischief.” I was read no rights or anything. They took me to a holding cell. The guy put the cuffs on super tight. They always do.

I’ve been there. Your hands go numb.
Yeah. This happened maybe 9:30 at night. I got out at four in the morning and they made me walk home. Took me another hour.

When I woke up my mom’s like, “Why’d you get home so late?”

I’m like, “You know what, mom? I’m not even gonna tell you what happened. Here’s the video.”

It took my stepfather a week to watch it because he was so pissed off. We counter-sued the guy for assault and harassment. His wife took my keys so that’s grand theft auto and I had him on a civil suit too. I didn’t even bring up the fifth suit—he falsified a police report. He said that I hit him and tried to run and that’s why he restrained me.

So my lawyer shows up an hour late to the mediation where this all could’ve been settled. My lawyer called the guy a fucking asshole in the courtroom and screamed at him. I’m sitting there laughing, like, “Why didn’t I have my camera for this one.”

So it gets rescheduled. They sent it straight to case and my lawyer shows up an hour late for that too. I’m like, “What the hell is wrong with this guy?”

We get there and the judge is like, “I don’t get this. For a bush? Really? This is childish. I want you to go out in the hallway and settle this amongst yourselves.”

So the guy comes up to me, “I’m ready for you to pay me for the bush now.”

I was like, “Are you kidding me?” And my stepfather almost choked the guy out—started screaming at him.

My lawyer jumps in the middle, brings him over to the corner of the waiting room and says, “This kid’s not paying for shit, he’s got a video and you’re basically screwed.”

The guy’s like, “Well since there’s a video, I’ll just drop the charges on him and you just drop the charges on me.”

I’m like, “Really? This is how it’s gonna go down?”

So we go back in the courtroom. The judge, this fucking heinous Santa Clause-looking jerk off, goes “Have you guys come to an agreement?”

My lawyer’s like, “Yes, sir, all the charges are dropped.”

I was like, “Fine, you guys wanna play like that? Check this out.”

I walked out of the courtroom; made a phone call and the video went up on YouTube. It took that guy like 50 years to build a business and have an awesome name in Livingston and now his life is ruined.

What’s been the backlash against him?
Dude, kids in high school are ripping on his kids so bad. His kids are mortified. And now it’s gonna get even better because I’m making "How fast? Real fast." t-shirts and every kid in high school is gonna buy the shirt and wear ‘em to school. So his kids are just completely screwed.

He owns a shoe store in Livingston?
He’s got three of ‘em and now they’re just all being ruined.

I saw all the negative reviews people are leaving on Google and Yelp! Pretty funny.
It’s retarded. He just overprices shit and that’s how he makes his money because he’s a rich fuck.

Let’s say it was the middle of the day and some mom was inside the store and her kids were outside playing in the bushes …
Are you ready for this? That actually happened. Maybe five or six years back, the Cub Scouts were going around putting up signs and doing their thing for their boxcar derby or some dinner they had. They stuck a sign in the soil and he flipped out. He screamed at all these little kids and it was a big thing in the paper. It was wild.

How do you freak out on the Cub Scouts? Who does that? Also, that’s not even his property. It’s the town’s property and it’s the town’s bush. He owns the building but not the bush.

I understand it could be frustrating for him. I get where you were in the wrong, but how bad has it been that this was the last straw for him?
The straw that broke the camel’s back. I don’t know, I mean, I know other people skate there because it’s a pretty epic gap.

You guys should make a documentary, "Behind the Bush."
"Back to the Bush" instead of "Back to the ‘Burg." For Go Skate Day I wanna have "Back to the Bush" and see how many people can throw hammers down that gap.

Was he spitting while he was in all your face yelling?
Oh for sure. There was one point where I was really pissed off. But I’m not a fighter. I ain’t running anywhere either. He was screaming—so heated and spitting. There was mucus coming out of his mouth. Like if you look at my face, I was kinda bummed on him.

How were you not laughing? It pisses people off so bad if you just laugh at them.
Of course, but I’ve never been attacked like that before. I was in shock. I raised my voice a couple times because I was pretty pissed off. I was just completely bummed on the situation. I couldn’t even scream at the guy let alone laugh in his face. I hope Tosh.0 gives me a web redemption. I’m hoping for that. I want a web redemption!

I saw a letter from a detective on YouTube saying that the video had to come down.
So I get a call and my friend is like, “Dude, I gotta leave school right away. The detectives called me and they were screaming. They’re gonna come and arrest me for harassment and death threats because of the video.”

The detective called my stepfather too, and my stepfather’s like, “Get outta here. They’re not taking the video down.”

But if the trial is over and all is squashed, you’re allowed to have the video up, right?
Yeah because it’s my video. He could’ve bought it for $300,000 but he chose not to. He was being an arrogant fuck. And so many other people had the video by the time the detectives called anyway. I have the original copy of the video, so I just started passing it out. Fuck that.

People ruin their own lives; all we do is document it.
Yeah, pretty much, man. It’s so ridiculous. I don’t know, man, I think he’ll just call the cops next time.

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Kill Fee

December 31, 2010

rob brink already been done dylan rieder
Kill Fee
Words: Rob Brink
Already Been Done, December 2010

Because 2010 was the dawn of the online pro video part being a new standard in skateboarding, a few months ago we started an article on the "Top 5 online video parts of 2010" and got in touch with some of the skaters who made those parts. Then, about a week ago, the entire skate blogosphere published "Top Online Video Parts of 2010" articles ....

So we scrapped ours.

However, having already spoken with Daewon Song and Shane O'Neill and noticing that none of the other articles decided to do anything of the sort, we figured that not using their commentary would be a disservice to our readers, and sorta rude, considering the two of them made the time to speak to us. So, in no particular order, here they are:

dylan rieder rob brink already been done

"I remember watching Dylan's part at 3 a.m. and thinking 'Wow, this part is amazing.' I couldn't believe it was just a web video! The next morning watched it again. Such a great part."
-Daewon

"Dylan's part was so amazing. I liked how it was put together—really easy on the eyes. Dylan has been absolutely killing it and it was amazing to finally see the footage of all those gnarly photos we saw come out in the mags. The frontside tailslide kickflip was the best. That was, hands down, the best one of those I'll ever see."
-Shane

shane o'neill rob brink already been done

"Seen this part in Texas. Chico showed me! I tried to pretend it wasn't real, haha. But this part definitely put Shane in the spotlight and it's well deserved! He killed it!! I would have paid three bucks."
-Daewon

daewon song rob brink already been done

"Daewon's part was awesome. How he went back to all the spots and re-did the lines was awesome. Me and my friends filmed the same tricks we did years ago back in Melbourne like that sometimes. Then, after that section there are tricks in there that I thought wouldn't be going down anytime soon, but he does them with such power and control. Switch frontside shuv krooks to bigflip? That's insane."
-Shane

vincent alvarez rob brink already been done

"Vincent's always fun to watch! He charges and kills everything. So stoked to see him skate the way he does and always seems to be having fun! Everyone at Girl and Chocolate rip and having Vincent just adds so much extra!"
-Daewon

"Vincent's Lakai commercial was amazing. I liked the way it was put together and it just all flowed so quickly. Vincent is a ripper!"
-Shane

paul rodriguez rob brin kalready been done

"What an awesome part. He skates the way he's always skated, but always steps it up, up, up and is so solid! He always steps his shit up!"
-Daewon

"Paul's part was my favorite. It reminded me so much of Paul in In Bloom back in the day, which is my favorite video. I like the nollie hardflip he did down that 12 stair. That's the best. That trick is so hard, let alone doing it down a 12 stair. And he made it look so good."
-Shane

Oh, and one more thing from Daewon:


"I'm working on a new secret project before the end of this year!"

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Festivus: Damn Am Costa Mesa 2010

December 20, 2010

the skateboard mag damn am costa mesa 2010 rob brink
Festivus: Damn Am Costa Mesa 2010
Words: Rob Brink
The Skateboard Mag, February 2010

“Crime has increased during every recession since the late 1950s.”
—Sociologists interviewed by Reuters, October 2008.

First, it was the disappearance of Andrew Cannon’s bike.

When a dude comes up to you in a full-on penguin suit telling you his bike got stolen and he doesn’t even seem that mad, you can’t help but feel for the guy, then wonder if you’re as good at not sweating the small stuff as he is.

Poor little penguin.

Then, it was the cracked-out chef in a Santa Cruz “screaming hand” apron, who, in between grilling shifts, bullied various members of the SPoT crew into giving him free product and looted the Volcom box truck.

“He got in my face about getting some free shirts and was smelling like rotten beer at like, 11 am,” says Ryan Clements. “I gave him one and then he demanded another. Pretty lame.”

“That dude was on something else other than beer,” says Jorge Angel. “He demanded we give him shirts or we else wouldn’t eat.”

“Later that day, he took a pile of Indy stickers and shirts out of the Volcom truck,” says Rob Meronek. “I was entering scores, glanced up, wondered why a 45-year-old drunk fuck was taking shirts and went back to entering scores. A few minutes later he came back trying to start a fight with me, claiming he’s riding for Indy for 25 years. All this while I'm wearing a fucking Wonder Woman costume.”

the skateboard mag damn am costa mesa 2010 rob brink

Next was Jereme Knibbs, who won 5th place in the Best Trick contest. When he put his backpack full of prizes down for a moment to throw some product out to the kids during the product toss, the backpack disappeared.

This isn’t a lecture. This isn’t moralizing. It’s just the facts.

I wasn’t at the Costa Mesa Damn Am finals for more than 10 minutes before the three aforementioned stories of thievery came my way.

Is the shitty economy or some Costa Mesa-area low-lifes to blame? Was it the mischievous Halloween vibe or are people just plain assholes? Is some free crap that you don’t deserve so important that you gotta steal it from a kid who just won it and ruin his proud moment?

When all was said and done, the few people who earned their keep were Kyle Walker, David Loy and Tommy Fynn. Kyle is now the 10th Annual Damn Am Costa Mesa winner. Loy took Best Trick and Tommy won the Zumiez Destroyer award. Congrats, fellas.

On my way out of the contest, I was walking behind a pack of young kids carrying armfuls of tees and stickers and random schwag. They seemed about 9 or 10 years old.

There was a skateboard on the ground between two parked cars and one of the kids, without even breaking stride, picked it up and kept walking, at which point, his friend asked, “Was that yours?”

“No, but it is now,” he replied excitedly, and kept on walking.

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Free Lunch: Kelly Hart

December 15, 2010

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An unseen interview with Skater of the Year, Leo Romero

November 29, 2010

leo romero toy machine rob brink

Leo Romero
April 8, 2009
Words: Rob Brink

The following conversation took place in April of 2009, the week Leo Romero left Baker to ride for Toy Machine. It was intended to be an audio interview for The Skateboard Mag's website, accompanying his photo-only feature that ran in the mag that month, in which case, it would have been his first interview discussing all that you're about to read.

Much to my dismay (especially when I found out there'd be no paycheck for me as a result), Leo requested that only the photos run and I've been sitting on this for over a year and a half.

My apologies in advance if you've read some of this info in interviews that have since been published by other mags or websites. I figured since he's the new SOTY, it's a good time to publish regardless. Enjoy, and congrats, Leo! Well deserved.

I have this theory that you’re really into slamming and pain. Am I wrong?
I mean, no one likes pain. I wanna make the trick obviously, but part of the fun of skateboarding is scraping your elbow and falling on your knees. As a kid walking around with scabs all over me, I was like, “Fuck yeah! I’m a dirty skater!” You know what I mean? To me, that’s skateboarding.

I remember you came up to me once and said, “Why do you always put slams of me on the Internet?”
Yeah, ‘cause I saw this clip you made of a RVCA demo and it was all slams and only two makes. I was like, “Fuck, I swear I made more than two tricks.”

Well, you seem to commit slamming. You don’t put your arms down. You fall to your shoulders and your head all the time. I was just like, “This guy is crazy in a really good way.”
Everyone learns how to slam and that’s just the way I fall I guess. Look at Corey Duffel, he’s broken many a bone. I don’t think he likes pain. I’m sure at a demo people like to see someone fall though.

I’ve never seen anyone skate a demo as hard as you. You can barely walk by the end. But kids see that and take it with them. You went for it while the other guy was sitting in the van not skating.
Yeah, I don’t do it to shine above anybody. I do it ‘cause those kids are there to see you skate. I remember seeing pros not even skating a demo when I was younger and I was like, “Fuck dude, why isn’t that guy skating? I’m here to see him skate.”

They finally turn pro and get a board. Then they get a shoe and an apparel line and all of a sudden they’re too cool to skate a demo. And you’re like “Wow, only two years and you’re over it?”
Yeah, it’s so funny to see that ‘cause it’s like, “What exactly are you too cool for? You’re obviously collecting the checks but you’re too cool to do a kickflip for the kids who are buying your board?” I think it’s fucking funny, man.

I don’t want a kid leaving a demo and saying, “Why didn’t Leo skate?” I wanna skate like they see me in a video or a magazine, not pussyfoot it just because it’s a demo.

So you’re the hot news item this week. People probably want to know why you quit Baker for Toy Machine.
Just a change of pace I guess.

It seems a common reaction is “Why would you ever leave Baker?” As if you are making a mistake or something.
I can see that. But I didn’t even get that reaction from Andrew. He was as cool as anything. I was already feeling weird because I was thinking about quitting. I didn’t want to go behind his back or whatever. Calling Andrew Reynolds and quitting his company is kinda scary, you know what I mean? When I told him he was like, “Oh, that’s cool man, who are you gonna ride for?”

He thought it was cool that I was riding for Toy instead of some lame company. I never had any second guesses about quitting but his reaction just reassured me that it was a good decision on my part.

Amazing that he’s a real friend in that situation and not just your boss.
That’s how I look at it. He’s not mad at me for quitting his company. He’s happy for me and that’s fucking awesome.

It seemed like a lot of people thought you were a perfect fit on Baker when you went there. I’m wondering if all along you were feeling differently?
It’s just weird. When you get older things change. When I was on Foundation, people thought I was good on there and then I was on Baker and people thought I was good on there. Now that I’m on Toy Machine people think it’s good.

You once said that your boards don’t sell on Baker. I know quitting wasn’t a money thing, but it sort of got me thinking that you might shine brighter on Toy Machine in a way …
I’ve heard people talk about that, like, “Oh, you want to be bigger on Toy Machine.” But it’s not that. I don’t care if my boards don't sell. When I put out graphics I’m not trying to put out top sellers—I put graphics out that I think are funny. There are a lot of good people on Toy Machine. Just like there are a lot of good people on Baker. I didn’t switch to be like, “the main guy” or anything ‘cause that’s the last thing I want. Before me, Toy Machine was still fucking awesome. I’m not really bringing anything to the table that isn’t already there.

leo romero toy machine rob brink

As far as Emerica is concerned, there are a lot of the same riders. What’s different about being on Emerica than Baker?
I’ve been on Emerica since I was a fucking kid. They’ve helped me out a lot. It’s different. With Baker it’s like I was joining the cool guys—like the skate stars. And with Emerica it was always like family. I just want to be happy. Not that I wasn’t happy with Baker. It’s nothing that they did. I just wasn’t happy, period.

How would things be different if you had never left Foundation?
That’s hard to say. Maybe the same. Even a month ago at a signing, kids were like “Oh you’re on Baker? Why did you quit Foundation?” And I was like, “That happened three years ago.”

I think with me people don’t really identify my skateboarding with a board company. They just see me as being on Emerica.

It could even be said about this interview and how much we’re talking about Baker and Toy Machine, but are people thinking way too hard about skateboarding these days?
I totally think so. Like, who cares man? People quit companies like all the time. But you can even see it in ads and stuff. People just standing there and looking cool.

I think it’s gotten to that point where certain people think they’re celebrities and it’s like, “You’re not a celebrity, dude, you’re just some retard skater guy. We all are.”

You’ve explained in other interviews a sort of ugly aftermath with Tod Swank when you left Foundation. Are you on a different level with him now, going back to the Tum Yeto umbrella?
I’m not like, good friends with Tod or anything but I was still holding a grudge from back in the day and being a little fuck. I’ve always liked Toy Machine and the only reason I didn’t get on sooner was because of me being an idiot about that whole deal. Towards the end of me being on Baker I was talking to Ed and jokingly was like, “Yeah, if you guys make him put an ad out saying he’s a dick, I’m down to do it.” So Ed’s like, “Alright, let me call him.”

That’s more like how skateboarding was in the early nineties.
I think it’s funny and cool on Tod’s part to do that ad. So I was like, “Alright cool, fuck it.”

Rocco stole Richard Mulder from Foundation back in the day and ran a pretty funny ad with Richard driving his Porsche announcing it.
It just makes it more fun. It’s not too serious, you know what I mean? I think Tod used to kick people off in ads, right?

Yeah, Ronnie Creager got kicked off Foundation in an ad. Do you ever feel that you need to get away from skateboarding, whether it’s the people or the filming or whatever?
I never get to the point where I’m like “Oh dude, skating is such a drag. I’m over it for a week.” It’s more like, “What are we doing this weekend? We’re going to the swap meet? Fuck yeah, let’s do it! Let’s play some guitar today. Lets ride some bikes!”

I’m never putting down my board because I’m sick or tired of skating. I’m just putting it down ‘cause something else comes up—like the weekend.

What’s something you need to work on to improve yourself as a person?
I guess people sometimes think I’m a dick because I don’t really like talking to many people. But like, Austin Stephens doesn’t talk to many people and he’s not a dick. I’m sure I’ve got things to work out but I don’t really know. I guess that’s a question I should ask people … “Hey man, how am I lame?”

I heard that you’re not the best person to go riding Harleys with because you just get on your bike and go 100 miles an hour and leave everyone in the dust.
I’m a very impatient person. If people are lagging I’m like, “Fuck this I’m outta here.”

If you could fight any famous person who would it be?
God I dunno, that’s a hard one. Probably Rocky Balboa. Yeah, ‘cause it would be the last fight of the movie and it would be a pretty big deal.

But you’d probably get your ass kicked.
Yeah, but it’s worth it if it’s Rocky, dude.

See, but that goes back to the pain thing I was asking earlier.
Sometimes it’s worth it to get a little broken up to have some fun.

What do you hate right now?
I’m a pretty simple guy. Not too much shit bothers me but I hate going to overcrowded bars and they’re overcharging you for beer. I hate that.

So on the other side all that, what makes you happy on a daily basis?
The same things as everybody else I think: Playing guitar, listening to music, barbecuing on a summer day, finishing up some cold ones, fucking girls.

Beer, food and women …
And music and skateboarding. Pretty simple.

Imagine everyone in the world was that simple? How awesome would that be?
Yeah, everybody would be drinking, barbecuing and out for poon.

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